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January 18, 2008

San Francisco’s Black MSMs Disproportionately Affected by HIV

As the number of African Americans living in San Francisco decreases—now representing only seven percent of the city’s population—new research shows black residents account for 14 percent of the city’s new HIV infections, suggests the Bay Area Reporter (, 1/17).

According to HIV researcher Dr. Willi McFarland, one-third of black men who have sex with men in San Francisco are HIV positive, making them the minority group most afflicted by the epidemic. In contrast, 26 percent of white MSMs are HIV positive, and 23 percent of Latino MSMs are living with the virus.

“Much to our shame, we took this by surprise … we should have seen it coming,” McFarland told the city’s HIV Prevention Planning Council on January 10. “The question starts to arise: why do we see such a discrepancy?”

In the article, McFarland suggests black MSMs may be disproportionately affected due to a closed network of sexual activity—where black MSMs have sex exclusively with other black MSMs—and the fact that the many of them do not know their HIV status.

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